Beachwood’s Scofflaw Tourists: ‘Just Get Us to the Hollywood Sign, Residents Be Damned’

August 7, 2010 § 5 Comments

Parking Illegally to Pose in the Middle of Beachwood Drive, 6:45pm Aug. 7/All Photos Hope Anderson Productions

Last Thursday night’s packed meeting of the Beachwood Canyon Neighborhood Association brought forth a torrent of stories about the ever-increasing number of tourists coming into the Canyon to see the Hollywood Sign. Arriving by bus, van and rental car, they not only throng Beachwood Drive but the narrow residential streets that run off it, creating gridlock.

As the tourists’ objective–to get photos of themselves in front of the Hollywood Sign–has become more ambitious, it has put residents in an increasingly dangerous and frustrating situation. GPS has made it easier for visitors get nearer to the Sign, where they create chaos on the already treacherous access roads. On a recent weekend, so many cars came up Durand Drive that they completely blocked access to the fire road  running along the top of Griffith Park, to say nothing of the houses along the way.

Residents who live below the Hollywoodland gates described having their driveways blocked by tourist vans and rental cars, public urinaton and flower-picking (presumably not simultaneous) by trespassing tourists, and a pervasive atmosphere of lawlessness. This goes on all day  every day, as tourists stand in the middle of Beachwood Drive, weave in and out of traffic or simply stop their cars in the middle of  the two-lane road to take pictures, halting all traffic behind them.  Objections to this illegal behavior are met with curses and jeers: how dare we, the residents, stand in their way?

Everyone who lives in the Canyon has narrowly missed hitting tourists who dash in front of their cars to pose for pictures in the middle of Beachwood Drive. My own close call came a couple of years ago, when a father who was photographing his children on Beachwood pushed them directly in my path as I drove down the hill. Only fast reflexes and good brakes prevented a catastrophe.

Parking Illegally on Mulholland Highway While Posing, 6:35pm

Last night’s meeting focussed on tour buses and vans, whose numbers and reach have increased dramatically in the past few years. No longer is it just a matter of the Starline Tours trolley bus stopping for pictures near Glen Oak before turning around at the Village. Open-air vans now transport smaller groups all the way up to Lake Hollywood Park, adding to the already hazardous conditions on Ledgewood Drive and Mulholland Highway. The van drivers also use microphones to point out the sights, creating a jarring monologue that residents hear many times a day, even behind closed doors. (Thanks to the efforts of Councilmember Tom LaBonge, tour operators have pledged to switch to headsets.)

Parked Cars at the Intersection of Mulholland Highway and Canyon Lake Drive, 5:55pm

One of Tom LaBonge’s ideas was to petition the government to relocate the GPS for the Hollywood Sign to Lake Hollywood Park. Nice try, but he should know that the area is already overrun with vans and cars. The intersection of Mulholland Highway and Canyon Lake Drive, where the Lake Hollywood lookout is located, is so clogged with parked and double-parked cars on both sides that access on the steep hill is sometimes limited to a single lane. Cars also stop illegally on the winding ridge of Mulholland, forcing traffic to pass on blind curves. As someone who drives that route five times a week, I can attest that head-on collisions are only narrowly averted.

Striking the Pose--Legally--at Lake Hollywood Lookout, 6pm

What is to be done? I hate to say it, but no substantive change is likely until a tragedy occurs. It’s going to take a fatal accident caused by the lawless behavior of Beachwood tourists to change things because the reasonable alternative–seeing the Hollywood Sign from afar–isn’t an option anymore. As for the pictures that accompany this article, all were taken in the space of an hour on a relatively slow night. But you get the idea.

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§ 5 Responses to Beachwood’s Scofflaw Tourists: ‘Just Get Us to the Hollywood Sign, Residents Be Damned’

  • freeda says:

    I live on one of the streets mentioned and this past weekend was a nightmare. Between the tourists, tourist vans and helicopters it feels like we live in a war zone. I understand that we live with the Sign and chose to live here, however these streets were never built to accomodate this kind of traffic. Our neighbors car has been hit twice by tourists. They drive so fast on the winding streets and its a matter of time before another innocent person is hurt or worse. I wish that the Helicopters would have been addressed at the meeting as they are also a huge problem. Not to mention the blaring loundspeaker that the rangers use to warn people not to climb the front of the Hwood sign. Its impossible to relax and enjoy the homes we have all worked so hard for when all this insanity is happening. What is going to be done?

    • You have my sympathy–I know how bad the situation is in the upper Canyon. One thing I recommend is photographing every violation you see, even if it’s just with your phone. I found out while taking the photos for this post that it has an instant effect–people got out of the street and in some cases moved their illegally parked cars. Obviously, they know they’re in the wrong; if residents made a point of recording this behavior, it would improve.

  • freeda says:

    The problem is that we don’t have time to be patrolling our own neighborhood, isnt that what we pay our city to do? make sure we are safe? I guess its going to take someone getting hurt for anyone to pay attention. Our wonderful little neighborhood is being ruined by tourism and helicopters. Sundays are helicopter hell now and it makes me want to move. Its really really sad. Thank you for your blog its really neat.

    • Thanks for commenting. I think the point needs to made that–contrary to what Tom LaBonge said–there is no upside to tourism for Beachwooders. Tourists are not enriching our community; all the profit goes to the tour providers while residents have to endure the endless traffic and noise.

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